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College Football Countdown: No. 60 Vanderbilt

The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. We’ll take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 60: Vanderbilt

Analysis compiled by Rachel George

Coach: James Franklin (6-7, 2nd season)

2011 record: 6-7 (2-6 in SEC, T-8th in SEC)

Look back: Vanderbilt made only its fifth bowl appearance after starting the season 3-0 and finishing with a 6-6 regular-season mark. Among those losses were four within a touchdown, including a three-point loss to Arkansas after Vanderbilt missed a field goal in the final seconds.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 2/9

Defensive starters lost/returning: 4/7

Key losses: Linebacker Chris Marve was the Commodores’ leading tackler last season, ranking 12th in the conference. Cornerback Casey Hayward led the conference in passes defended, as well.

Top returnees: Running back Zac Stacy ranked third in the conference in rushing and the Commodores return quarterback Jordan Rodgers.

Strengths: Vanderbilt returns seven starters from a defense that ranked fourth against the run and was second in the conference in interceptions. On offense, the Commodores’ run game is in good hands with Stacy and Rodgers.

Weaknesses: Vanderbilt ranked in the middle of the pack in most categories last year but was last in the SEC in field goal kicking. That remains a concern, along with filling holes at linebacker and developing depth on the offensive line.

Outlook: The Commodores suffered close losses to Georgia, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee in 2011. A year later, the Commodores return an experienced team that should be better from the struggles of last season. With some of their tougher games at home and a top-30 recruiting class coming in, the Commodores could see marked improvement in Franklin’s second season.

2012 Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. South Carolina
Sept. 8 at Northwestern
Sept. 15 vs. Presbyterian
Sept. 22 at Georgia
Oct. 6 at Missouri
Oct. 13 vs. Florida
Oct. 20 vs. Auburn
Oct. 27 vs. Massachusetts
Nov. 3 at Kentucky
Nov. 10 at Ole Miss
Nov. 17 vs. Tennessee
Nov. 24 at Wake Forest

Rest of the countdown:

No. 61 Connecticut

No. 62 Arizona State

No. 63 Wyoming

No. 64 Northern Illinois

No. 65 Utah State

No. 66 Louisiana-Lafayette

No. 67 Marshall

No. 68 Western Michigan

No. 69 Louisiana Tech

No. 70 Kentucky

No. 71 Air Force

No. 72 Western Kentucky

No. 73 UCLA

No. 74 Toledo

No. 75 FIU

No. 76 San Jose State

No. 77 North Texas

No. 78 Iowa State

No. 79 Nevada

No. 80 Eastern Michigan

No. 81 Hawai’i

No. 82 East Carolina

No. 83 Texas Tech

No. 84 Washington State

No. 85 San Diego State

No. 86 Ball State

No. 87 Navy

No. 88 Tennessee

No. 89 Kent State

No. 90 Louisiana-Monroe

No. 91 Bowling Green

No. 92 Syracuse

No. 93 Minnesota

No. 94 Boston College

No. 95 Kansas

No. 96 Oregon State

No. 97 Rice

No. 98 Ole Miss

No. 99 Colorado

No. 100 New Mexico State

No. 101 Duke

No. 102 Idaho

No. 103 Army

No. 104 Maryland

No. 105 Colorado State

No. 106 Miami (Ohio)

No. 107 UTEP

No. 108 Troy

No. 109 Fresno State

No. 110 Central Michigan

No. 111 Indiana

No. 112 Memphis

No. 113 Middle Tennessee

No. 114 UAB

No. 115 Buffalo

No. 116 Tulane

No. 117: FAU

No. 118: UNLV

No. 119: Akron

No. 120: New Mexico

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